Team Identity: Anger Brewing In Winnipeg

The Jets' disjointed tactics lead to discontent

Hockey people are not real good at talking about feelings.

But let’s do that for a second.

During the 1970s, psychologist Paul Eckman identified six basic emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures. The emotions he identified were happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger.


We’re taught to “never get too high or too low,” so happiness falls by the wayside. Same with sadness, which we typically keep to ourselves and our alcoholic beverages.

Fear is out of the question. If we acknowledge fear we might as well quit.

Disgust is what causes us to be labeled as “low-character guys” (players) or to lose the room (coaches). So best to keep that to a minimum.

We put on fronts and claim to never be surprised by anything.

This makes anger the most socially-accepted emotion of the job.

All-consuming anger.

I’d be angry too, if I played forward for the Winnipeg Jets.

It’s not because of the cold. In my books the city’s surprising ethnic cuisine scene makes up for the -35c weather.

But because I’m not. Getting. Any. Help.

Related: WPG System Sheets

In the Offensive Zone

What am I angry about?

As forwards we play 3v5 down low, which is hard.

The Ds seldom get active and present themselves as outlets when I am being pushed into the wall.

When they do get involved, it’s to sift low-percentage point shots that I have to sprint to retrieve.

When in doubt they back out of the zone instead of getting tight and killing opposing breakouts early.

They retreat to the red line and I have to backcheck 200 feet.

In the Neutral Zone

What am I angry about?

The Ds once again can’t or won’t do anything.

They don’t carry the puck or to sprint the weak side as to create space for us forwards.

They send us the puck while we’re in coverage and we have to make an emergency play to get out of trouble.

On regroups we’re constantly out-numbered so we have to dump and chase.

Off-season cardio tennis is fun. But in-season cardio hockey isn’t.

In the Defensive Zone

What am I angry about?

Our Ds don’t do anything.

They don’t have permission to use the middle of the ice or to activate on the weak side.

As a result our wingers get jammed up at the half-wall and our centers have no follow-up plays when they curl low in the DZ to get a pass.

We’re told to push out of the zone quickly on a change of possession, but we can’t get any good pucks unless we stay low to grab rimmed pucks.

Then we hope to get two or three strides in before the other team’s D pinches down on us.

I miss Buff. I miss Toby. miss Trouba. I even miss Myers.

Okay I’m getting sad.

Must. Be. Angry. Instead.

Sami Niku used to be good at all this stuff.

But it’s been coached out of him and now he just sucks.


A Shift With Scheifele

I’m being overly dramatic in my hypothetical player confession.

But let’s watch a shift from WPG55 Mark Scheifele and see what we notice:

0:05: WPG64 (LD) flips the puck out of the zone. WPG55 has to start the shift on the forecheck, chasing, instead of in possession.

0:09: WPG64 steps up as D1 in the 1-1-3 NZ FC to cause a turnover at the line. He is late to the play. This type of reach will sometimes result in an odd-man rush.

0:14 WPG55 gets his first touch on the quick breakout pass. However he is playing 2v4, has no clear outs and turns the puck over in an attempt to find a linemate through the CGY defense.

0:25: WPG4 forces the play up the wall. Turnover.

0:28: WPG gets into its Swarm defense and WPG55 has to play as a D, responsible for denying the back of the net while protecting the front.

0:32: WPG55 gets the pass but is flat-footed and has no outs. He again forces the play up the wall and almost turns the puck over.

0:49: CGY changes and WPG gets a free exit. WPG55 stays wide on the 1-2-2 forecheck, gets a rimmed puck off a goalie turnover and sets up a high-danger chance for WPG27.

The Jets almost score. But how repeatable is this sequence? And is this the best way to make the most of Scheifele, Wheeler, Connor, Ehlers and Dubois?

I would say no.

F**** do I know. But it makes me angry.

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